January Japanese Seasonal Seafood
Happy New Year. 2011 was a very challenging year for Japan with the triple disaster in Tohoku. The country is ready for the new year to begin, for spring to bud with flowers and for a new start.
The seafood in winter is rich with fat as the fish protects itself from the cold waters. Some sashimi eaten this time of year will be a bit oily as a result. As always, we love to have most seafood as sashimi when possible, in particular tairagai and yari ika. Shinji in particular has a soft spot for kanburi or winter buri from Himi port in Toyama. He loves it as sashimi but it is also good as teriyaki or in the classic dish buri daikon – simmered with daikon in a slightly sweet soy broth. Kinmedai is also lovely when simmered in a soy broth as nitsuke.
Aozakana, literally blue fish, are the fishy fish in the mackerel family like saba and sawara. Sawara can be marinated in a sweet Saikyo miso and grilled, the miso helps to cover some of the intense fish flavor. Saba is nice simmered in miso in a traditional dish preparation called misoni. Shime saba is the term for saba that has been marinated in a sweet rice vinegar, essentially pickling it. Finally, each January we usually have ankou nabe, a hot pot of monkfish. We save the liver to prepare it as ankimo, often called “foie gras of the sea”. It is simple to prepare, see the recipe here.
If you click on the name of the seafood in Japanese you should be directed to a photo of it.
Akagarei – 赤鰈 flathead flounder (Hippoglossoides dubius)
Amadai – 赤甘鯛 tilefish (Branchiostegus japonicus)
Ankou – 鮟鱇 monkfish (Lophiomus setigerus)
Asari – 浅利 littleneck clams (Ruditapes philippinarum)
Benizuwaigani – 紅楚蟹 red snow crab (Chionoecetes japonicus)
Buri – 鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)
Chidai– 血鯛 crimson sea bream (Evynnis japonica)
Hamaguri – 浜栗 common Orient clam (Meretrix lusoria)
Hira suzuki – 平鱸 blackfin Japanese seabass (Lateolabrax latus)
Honmaguro – 本鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)
Hoshigarei – 星鰈 spotted halibut (Verasper variegatus)
Kaki – 牡蠣 oyster (Crassostrea gigas)
Kanburi – 寒鰤 winter Japanese amberjack (see buri) (Seriola quinqueradiata)
* The port of Himi in Toyama is famous for its kanburi.
Kinmedai– 金目 (sometimes called kinme) splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens)
Matsuba gani – 松葉蟹 spiny crab (Hypothalassia armata)
Matsukawa – 松皮鰈 barfin flounder (Verasper moseri)
Nishin – 鰊 Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii)
Oma honmaguro – 大間鮪 bluefin tuna from Oma in Aomori (see honmaguro)
Saba – 鯖 Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)
Sawara – 鰆 Japanese Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus niphonius)
Shijimi – 大和蜆 corbicula clams (Corbicula japonica)
Soudagatsuo– 騒多鰹 frigate mackerel (Auxis thazard)
Surumeika – 鯣烏賊 Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)
Tairagai – 平貝 pen shell or fan shell (Atrina (Servatrina) pectinata)
Yanagi dako – 柳蛸 chestnut octopus (Octopus conispadiceus)
Yari ika – 槍烏賊 spear squid (Loligo (Heterololigo) bleekeri)